And so it is that I find myself typing the last entry in my breastfeeding journey blog. How have the weeks and months gone so quickly? I have very mixed feelings as there have been new experiences right up until these last days. We are currently working on getting madam number two used to taking a bottle so that she is ready to feed without me when I go back to work and she is at nursery. This process was very straightforward with madam number one as she promptly drained every bottle from the first and then pretty much gave up the boob overnight. Not so simple with number two, who is a little fussier when it comes to food and milk. I have discovered that she will take a warm bottle but I have had the more pleasurable experience of being able to continue feeding her for the first and last feed of the day and through the night as she is happy to mixed-feed. More pleasurable, that was, until last night.
During the last couple of days and nights, she seems to have been struggling with teething more than usual and we are waiting on the top front teeth – the bottom ones appeared nearly two months ago so more must surely be due. During the bedtime feed, which is usually fairly short and uneventful as madam drops off predictably every night, she became very fussy and wriggly and, after several boob loads of milk I suddenly found myself howling ‘ouch’ and putting her down in her cot very swiftly. Lucky the cot was there as I am not sure this was a fully conscious action – the full-on bite had occupied all of my thoughts and, even after she broke her heart crying, and I picked her straight back up for a cuddle, I could feel the throbbing pain and knew this wasn’t just a little nibble. I’ve known many people who have struggled with biting but never needed to worry with my first; food was far too important to her to mess around with biting.
Having not yet fully established bottle feeding, I then had to face further feeds during the night – although later inspection showed they would only be from my uninjured side as madam had managed to draw blood and I would need some time to heal.
Luckily all the nighttime feeds passed without incident – I assume she was too sleepy to be bitey too – and now it’s back to the bottles today, but, I am afraid to say, with a new resolve from me.
I really don’t enjoy the end of breastfeeding and having to introduce formula and all the faff that comes with using bottles but this latest experience makes me think it’s as good a natural break as any for both of us. I have given my girls the very best start in life – feeding them both until around seven or eight months old – and certainly until they were well established on solids and I therefore felt less obsessed with sticking to breastmilk only.
It has been, without doubt, one of the most emotional and meaningful things I have ever done. It follows naturally, in my mind, from the wonder of having created your very own unique human being, to then nourish and enable that little person to thrive. It didn’t come easily at the beginning but I persevered, with a lot of support from my husband and local breastfeeding group, and I am so glad I did. Although I am sad to be saying goodbye to this era of my little ones’ lives, I can’t deny that there is a little butterfly of excitement when I think I will be gaining a little bit of myself back, able to buy new clothes that don’t have slits for feeding and able to head off out with either one of my children or even on my own…
Becoming a mum is an amazing experience but it is one that is full of sacrifice and soul-searching. That isn’t meant to sound negative, just that, for women especially, there is an in-built desire to do the very best you can for your little bundles and, right from the time you emerge from the loo with that scary but precious positive testing stick, you are giving up your body, your own nourishment for a time, and a very large portion of your own mind, feelings and thoughts. I’ll never forget breastfeeding and I’ll never stop thinking about my kids and putting them first but I am looking forward to having my own body back for the first time in my nearly three-year-long journey of pregnancies and feeding.
Thanks to all my readers, thank you for your comments along the way and for the knowledge that I wasn’t alone. I hope I have helped some of you in those lonely moments too – and also in the happier moments – I hope your journeys are long and happy ones and that, when they end, you go on to enjoy the fantastic experience of parenting your little people.